Palestinian civilian toll climbs in Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli aircraft struck crowded areas in the Gaza Strip on Monday, driving up the Palestinian death toll to 94 and devastating several homes belonging to one clan as Israel broadened its targets in the 6-day-old offensive meant to quell Hamas rocket fire on Israel.

Escalating its bombing campaign, Israel on Sunday began attacking homes of activists in Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza. These attacks have led to a sharp spike in civilian casualties, killing 24 civilians in just under two days and doubling the number of civilians killed in the conflict, a Gaza health official said.

The rising toll was likely to intensify pressure on Israel to end the fighting. Hundreds of civilian casualties in an Israeli offensive in Gaza four years ago led to fierce international condemnation of Israel.

Hamas fighters, meanwhile, have fired hundreds of rockets into Israel in the current round of fighting, including 75 on Monday, among them one that hit an empty school. Twenty rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile battery, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Rockets landed in open areas of Beersheva, Ashdod, Asheklon. Schools in southern Israel have been closed since the start of the offensive Wednesday.

The new airstrikes came as Egypt was trying to broker a cease-fire, with the help of Turkey and Qatar. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and a delegation of Arab foreign ministers were expected in Gaza on Tuesday. However, Israel and Hamas appeared far apart in their demands, and a quick end to the fighting seemed unlikely....

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